"Thy Kingdom Come!" - Part 1 - Kansas City Shepherds Conference 1975
I would hope that every minister or spokesman of God has a "Now" moment when God seems to anoint their ministry so powerfully that it seems heaven has come down. I don't think I will be contradicted if I say that Ern Baxter's message on "Thy Kingdom Come" at Kansas City in 1975 was quite possibly his crowning moment of his service to God. The anointing on this message make it a "Must Hear" for anyone interested in his preaching.
It is interesting to hear what Charles Simpson had to say on this message: "In 1975, Ern ministered in the closing session of the Kansas City Shepherds' Conference. Nearly 5000 men had gathered; His message was "Thy Kingdom Come." As the message closed, they pulled off their shoes and bowed in God's presence. As they left the auditorium, they sang, "He is Lord." The men sang through the streets of Kansas City. Many people have said that it was the single most powerful meeting that they ever attended, and that the message was the most inspiring that they had ever heard".
It is my intention to transcribe the entire message and present it in parts. It HAS to be heard and read! It is my passionate prayer that everyone who reads these words has their vision of God, His Kingdom and His Spirit dynamited. That you rise up fired up like never before to know God and His Glory.
"I had composed what I thought were some rather clever introductory remarks which now, in the atmosphere of this momentous gathering, seem to have become inappropriate. I sense the Presence of God in this final meeting in a confirmatory way that serves to underline what I have felt all week - that we have been in the Presence of the Living Word of God. That we have not only been ministered to out of the hearts and minds of gifted men, but we have been ministered to on a higher level that marks times of special direction that God gives to His people, when He lifts us up into special dimensions of awareness and insight.
Earlier this week Charles Simpson was referring to some related brothers and he spoke of various characteristics of the different men in the group. He said that one of the brothers was always referring to things "in the larger perspective" ... I'm the brother. In speaking to you about "Thy Kingdom Come", that's exactly what I'm going to attempt to do. I'm going to try on this last night to describe the larger perspective of what God is doing - the significance of the practicalities you heard described by experienced and dedicated men. The very practical remarks of John Poole and Larry Christenson and the other speakers have ministered to our needs. I have appreciated the men and their messages. I have been fed and edified.
But I feel that to inspire our hearts to respond to those practical teachings, our faith must be charged and sustained by understanding that we are part of a cosmic scheme inaugurated by God and intended by God to be carried out until the entire universe acknowledges that Jesus Christ is Lord ... to the glory of God the Father. (*applause*).
1. God's Reign.
God has a problem in communicating with us. The problem is to communicate His infinite mind to our finite understanding. Therefore He gathers up all of our human relationships and uses each of them as metaphors to transmit some understanding of an aspect of His own character. Therefore when we speak of "King" or "Kingdom", God makes use of these expressions to give us some understanding of His own authority.
I like Doctor Moffat's translation of the "Kingdom of God". He speaks of it as "The Reign of God" - God's reign. It's the manifest authority of an infinately loving and holy God. It's His authority coming into a time/space world and bringing men into a willing obedience to the order of God. Using this metaphor of a King, the Word of God indicates that God has always been absolute sovereign. There has never been a time when God was not in total charge.
The Bible tries to tell us in simple language of the ultimacy of God. There is none before Him. There is none beside Him. He takes orders from none. He was created by none. He is Life - Self-Existent. There is nothing in Him that should be out of Him. Nothing out of Him that should be in Him. He remembers nothing because He's forgotten nothing. He learns nothing because there is nothing He does not know. He does not need to know because He holds all truth simultaneously. He is the God of the Eternal Now. He can look at human history from the beginning or the end or the middle - for all things are known to Him.
The Bible tells us that "The Lord has established His throne in the heavens and His sovereignity rules over all" (Ps 103:19 - NAS). The marginal note says, "all" means "the universe". God is the King of the Cosmos. Psalm 29:10 says "The Lord sat as King at the flood; yes the Lord sits as King forever" (NAS) or as another translation says, "Over the ages". He is the God who out of His eternal "nowness" spun the time/space world into existence. He sits outside of it in powerful authority yet He is involved within it in incarnate humility. He is the cosmic King. It is the nature of our God that within the mystery of the plurality of His own Person, there is order. Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Or as an old Puritan divine once said, "God in Himself is a sweet society".
The order of God's ultimate purpose is to be seen in His own Person. And within the mystery of His Person - Father, Son and Holy Spirit - there is absolute unity while there is inexplicable submission. The Father sent the Son and the Son came. The Son returned to the Father and the Father and the Son sent the Spirit and the Spirit came. Within these three Persons that are co-equal, co-substantial and co-essential, there is evident submission and this serves as the highest lesson to us that God is a God of order. Or as Bishop Hooker once said, "Order is heaven's first law".
The Kingdom of God we are speaking of is not some euphoric, ethereal mystic matter. We're talking of order. We are talking of man coming into the fulness of his self-realization, into his ultimate destiny as the image of God functioning in interpersonal relationships and in community until a waiting universe sees God projecting Himself out of the eternity of His Person into a community of redeemed men and women that are to be everlasting praise of His glory. (*applause*).
That company of mysterious creation, the angels is marked by order. We read of seraphim and cherubim, archangels and angels and we read of God sustaining that order. We read of the covering cherub, Lucifer, who probably was the one whom we now call Satan, who at one time was the "top" cherub in the hierarchy of the angelic order. He rose up in rebellion against God and was cast from his high place. We are reminded again and again that within the order of God, in a pre-Adamic situation in the heavenlies, that God meted out punishment and judgement and maintained order.
The God who maintained order in the angelic species is the God who is establishing and will bring ultimate order in the redeemed community. In the world of men, He established His first man Adam and gave him rule over the earth. He made him a ruler and Adam became the first delegated human authority in the earth. Satan himself having been thrust out of a place of authority, moved in on God's creation and subtly entered the human situation of Adam and Eve. Eve yielded to the sinister and subtle seductions of Satan. Adam joined her in eating the forbidden fruit, both of them abdicating in favour of what they considered to be a better offer. Human independence.
Satan's first lie to Adam was that if he would move out from under divine order, he would find himself in a most enviable position - he would be equal to God. He would be able to spin his own world off the end of his creative fingertips. He would be able to have his own angelic order. He would be like God. God had been holding out on him! Real life did not lie in submission to God. Real life lay in man coming out from under that submission and establishing an independent posture and so doing his own thing. And so sin has it's initial definition. "All we like sheep have gone astray, we have turned everyone to his own way" (Isaiah 53:6). Turned everyone to his own way!
But that is not the whole story. For as Satan seduced Eve and lured her out from under the authority of God and His order, they thought they were coming out to a position of independence and coequality with God. Instead they came out only to be dominated by the one who had seduced them and drawn them away from God. The Bible tells us that every man who is not under divine authority is not only doing his own thing, but he has adequate and able assistance from demonic powers (Ephesians 2:1-2). Disobedience means that a man has come out from under divine order to do his own thing. And to withdraw our submission to divine order us to automatically come under the deceptive influence of Satan himself.
Satan's inital lie was followed by a series of lies for our Lord said that he was a liar from the beginning. His lie started as a bluff and he continues to impose it on many men to this day - Christians included. That lie is that when Adam abdicated his authority, Satan took it over - that when Adam fell, Satan got the authority over the earth. Satan has imposed this lie on generation after generation of men. As a result, many Christians today consider Satan to be almost coequal with God and there is some kind of titanic struggle going on for ultimate authority - the outcome of which is not yet decided. This is not the case.
When Adam abdicated authority, Satan didn't get it. God reached down and took the scroll of authority out of Adam's hands and said, "I'll keep it until One comes who can handle it" (*applause*). I suggest that we all memorise and quote Psalm 24:1 as we rise each morning. "The earth is the Lord's and the fulness thereof - the world and all that dwells therein". Satan has been trying to bluff men for centuries into believing that he has the authority. You reply, "But he is referred to as the prince of this world - the god of this world". Indeed he is, but as we've already been told in this convention - we must learn to define our terms of reference.
I'm in the world and he's not my god nor my prince. Nor is he your god or your prince. Therefore we must find out what world he is prince over and god over. He is prince and god over the world of moral intelligences that are willingly submitted to his lying reign. He is not king of my world - he is not god of my world. For I am in a world that belongs to the Lord! I am in a world which God is sovereign over. I'm in a world that has always belonged to God, always will belong to God and which one day will be regenerated and refurbished to become the dwelling place of a community of men and women who have been prepared to manifest God's glory and righteousness in it. (*applause*).
You may well ask, "If God retrieved order and authority when Adam abdicated it, how then did He handle it?". The Word of God is clear in Hebrews 1:1, 2 that "God who in diverse manners in times past spake unto our fathers by the prophets hath in these last days spoken unto us by His Son". God undertook from the time of Adam's abdication to speak to men through prophetic voices. He reigned from heaven and if you'll carefully read the Old Testament Scriptures you'll find that He spoke through prophetic voices. For by definition a prophet is one who speaks for Another.
Satan thought that he had the authority, but God had it all the time. He spoke His authority through prophets. Prophets anointed kings. Prophets declared the will of God. Prophets in the earth were inspired to mediate God's divine authority. They did so for the thousands of years until God's Ultimate Prophet came on the scene: God's final Voice, God's ultimate manifestation, God's own darling Son whom He plucked from His bosom and into whom He poured all the riches of His wisdom and grace. This beloved One came down "for us men and for our salvation" to become God's final voice, to become the pattern Son, to become the ideal Man after whom He would pattern a whole community of redeemed ones. God chose to speak through prophets until Jesus came - whose right it was to reign.
Next: Part 2 - "I will Build My Church".